In January, Shirley Richardson got canned as executive director of the Civilian Investigative Panel, the voter-created group that polices the Miami Police Department.
According to panel members, she rarely showed up for work and was a terrible manager when she did. To top it off, Richardson demanded an 8 percent raise on top of her $168,000 annual salary and threw a fit when the group tried to take away her monthly $200 cell phone allowance and $800 car stipend.
Well, City Manager Pete Hernandez didn't take well to the board demanding that Richardson actually, you know, earn her taxpayer dollars. Declaring to CBS4 that "the budget is my domain," Hernandez gave Richardson a fake job in his office and let her keep her six-figure salary.
Now, Riptide has learned, Hernandez is demanding that the CIP rehire Richardson as an $85,000-a-year investigator. City Attorney Julie Bru sent a memo to the panel earlier this month claiming the city has the right to force the supposedly independent panel to take back the deadbeat administrator.
Combined with an expected 50 percent decrease in the board's overall budget, the move would leave Miami's independent police review board all but toothless.
"It would be outrageous for us to take her back at that salary after we fired her," says Janet McAliley, the panel's vice chair. "Her salary would cripple our ability to do investigations."
If you're not familiar with the CIP, flash back to the scary old days circa 2002, when the Miami PD was capping suspects left and right (often unarmed suspects in the back) and beating up anyone who looked sideways at a cop.
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After the Department of Justice investigated, voters overwhelmingly chose to create the panel and make it independent of the city government. The CIP hears hundreds of complaints a year from ordinary people who've been roughed up by police officers, and the panel famously took Chief John Timoney to task for driving around a free Lexus.
The CIP began with a $1.1 million budget, which paid for investigators and administrators. If the proposed city budget goes through September 24, the panel will be down to $464,000.
Rudy De La Guardia, a panel member, says taking on Richardson as a $85,000 investigator -- almost a quarter of the entire budget -- would mean laying off the three other investigators and cutting back on administrative costs.
"She was already fired because she didn't do the work she was supposed to do," he says.